Monthly Archives: May 2010

Expose Yourself to Winners

This is part 4 of a 12 part series that I call the 12 X’s of Leadership

Now for you “sickos” out there, “Expose Yourself to Winners” has nothing to do with flashing or trench coats. This principle is based on the idea of surrounding yourself with people who are “winsome”. You know the ones I’m talking about. There is something about them lifts your spirit and energizes your soul (as opposed to those who suck the very life out of you).

In my speaking career, in the past 20 years, I have had the pleasure of working with tens of thousands of teachers from all 50 states and they all understand the “power of modeling”. Typically, you hear this concept as it pertains to role models, but the idea is still the same. We tend to follow the influence of those people we surround ourselves with—good or bad.

A great habit to form is to spend time with people who inspire us to be our best (or at least better than we are right now).

Some folks call them mentors. Others call them heroes. They can be people we know personally or maybe only admired from a distance, but they still infuse us with an energy to be more, to do more.

Let me tell you about one of my heroes. Her name is Fanny Crosby. See, just her name makes you smile.

I can’t wait to meet Fanny. She was born almost 200 years ago and at a very young age she got an infection in her eyes. Her parents took her to an ignorant doctor whose “treatment” actually caused her to go irreversibly blind! What a devastating blow to her life!

She had every reason to grow up angry and bitter…life had dealt her a horrible hand.

But she didn’t. She is a winner.

At the age of 5, her mother recorded one of her prayers: “Oh Lord, help me learn to run and laugh and climb trees like my friends.”

She climbed.

At 8, Fannie wrote the first of over 8,000 poems she would write in her life (by the way her most famous is entitled “Blessed Assurance” – you have probably sung it in church).

Listen to the short two verse poem by a blind 8-year old who is more mature than many adults I know:

Oh, what a happy soul am I,
Although I cannot see.
I am resolved, that in this world,
Contented I will be.

How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don’t.
To weep and sigh because I’m blind,
I cannot and I won’t.

Isn’t that amazing! Here is a young girl who has already made a conscious decision as to what her attitude and emotional response is going to be in spite of what has happened to her.

That is the kind of “winner” I want to expose myself too.

That is the kind of attitude I want to catch.

Expose yourself to winners, and see yourself become one!

Exchange Non-Essentials

This is part 3 of a 12 part series I call the 12 X’s of Leadership

For the last 23 years, one of the most frequently requested training programs I have conducted is an advanced time management and personal organization workshop entitled “I’m Spread So Thin You Can See Through Me”. In this amazing course I literally teach people how they can learn to manage every detail of their life and never have anything fall through the cracks.

Tens of thousands have participated in it and I typically ask attendees why they sign up and come. Without a close second, “It is because of the title.” they say.

Can you identify with it? Most certainly do.

It seems these days there are more demands on our time, energy, and effort than ever before. I mean think about it…Are you busier right now than ever? Most people answer with a resounding “YES—I’M DYING HERE!”

It seems we have more meetings, emails, commitments, and to-do’s than ever before and not only is the volume greater, but everything seems to be “the most important thing.”

Stress and burnout are at all time highs and it seems that everyone is trying to do more with less, faster, cheaper, safer, and better. The result is a world full of folks who are living on the ragged edge.

Sleep is more difficult to attain because we have trouble turning our minds off. Then if we do fall asleep, better pray that you don’t wake up at 3:00am, because if you do, you will not be able to fall back asleep as the mental to–do list starts racing through your mind as you think about all your commitments.

We have got to learn to purge, or as I call it here — Exchange Non-Essentials. In his best selling book, Good to Great, author Jim Collins introduced a principle that has truly entered into the mainstream of society:

“Don’t let the good things rob you of the best things.”

There are many good things in which to be involved. Special projects at work, committees at church, environmental efforts, social causes, the list goes on and on…these are all GOOD things. But if they are interfering with the BEST things (time with family or friends, your health and well-being, whatever you determine is the BEST), then you would be wise to purge them from your life.

Yes, it hurts. Yes, it is tough to do. But in hindsight you will be so glad you Exchanged Non-Essentials.

Extract a Dream

This is Part 2 of a 12 part series that I call the 12 X’s of Leadership

For the last 20 years, the shelves in bookstores have been filled with self-help books. Their titles vary from toilet training your kids to building an airplane in your garage to learning how to become a millionaire. While these books cover every imaginable topic they almost all have one common thread.

  • A goal.
  • A dream.
  • A target.

All these books play on the same driving force found within each of us…we want to get somewhere, become something, develop some aspect of our life…fulfill a dream.

Dreams/Goals/Targets are the motivators behind behavior. These are the things that cause us to stay later, push harder, work faster. They give our lives meaning, value, desire, and even hope…and hope is something we all desperately need.

As Oprah’s buddy, Maya Angelou, put it, “Hope in the future brings power to the present.”

It is the dream/hope of a championship season that gives a football player the power to get through two-a-days in the heat of August. It is the dream/hope of parenthood that helps an expecting mom have the power to get through the pain of childbirth. It is the dream/goal/target to get healthy and lose that extra weight that gives an individual the power to make certain sacrifices and changes in their life to get there.

What is your dream? What is your goal? What is your target? What are you shooting for? What is driving you?

American leadership guru Peter Drucker, puts it this way, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Or, as Stephen Covey would add, “Begin with the end in mind.”

If you feel like you have “stalled out” in life, it is time to reconnect with or Extract a Dream.